Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman expected his precinct redistricting proposal to be accepted by the Tazewell County Board, but he said he understands why they’re giving it another look.
At the June 26 meeting, the board decided to hold off on making their final decision, which will now come at their July 31 meeting.
“If you have the time, why not take some extra time to make sure you’re getting all the information,” said Ackerman.
Ackerman will not delay his scheduled presentations on the redistricting at various Tazewell County township meetings in July, despite the board’s decision.
Nothing changed in regards to the content of the presentation, he said, just the timeline of when the redistricting will become finalized.
“With candidates pulling petitions and getting started, we wanted to get that information to them before that whole discussion really started taking off for the 2020 election,” said Ackerman. “That’s why I can’t delay a month, we would push our conversation too late with the townships.”
The proposal would lower the number of precincts from 135 to 109 in Tazewell County, thus lowering the number of elect judges from 1350 to 1090. The budget for election judges would shrink in a corresponding move, from over $225,000 to $182,575.
Ackerman’s proposal puts the average number of registered voters above what the Illinois election code lists as the maximum of 800, but he explained that there are “some rulings” that suggest that number isn’t mandatory.
Data shows that other counties across the state have gone above the threshold as well.
Peoria County, for instance, has 169 precincts for a total population of 186,494, which means the average number of registered voters per precinct is 1,104.
Champaign County has even less precincts, 118, for more people, 201,081, with an average of 1,704 registered voters per precinct.
Also included in the proposal are a change in election processes, specifically, according to Ackerman, is the consolidation of how election equipment is stored and distributed.
Currently the equipment is stored by the townships themselves. Ackerman said the county will take over that responsibility, and will also distribute the equipment to the towns.
“The reasoning for this,” said Ackerman, “is right now, I don’t have an idea of what equipment is out there, the status of the condition (the equipment) is in, because it’s not here where I can see it.”
In addition to the consolidation of storage, Ackerman said a better understanding of the equipment they have will allow them the opportunity to make the polling locations look more uniform across the board.
“I’ll be able to standardize what equipment is out there, what it looks like, what the condition of it is, and be able to have uniformity so that what you see in Boynton is the same as in Minier and Hopedale and Morton, which is how it should be,” said Ackerman.
In addition to holding off on their decision to accept the proposal, Ackerman said he understood that the board wanted to revise the proposal’s resolution in order to go to great lengths to explain why the redistricting is happening and what it means.
If the Tazewell County Board approves the resolution, redistricting will take effect in March 2020 during the primary elections.